In Memoriam: Mike Lull

Mike Lull

Very sad news to report today: bass builder Mike Lull has passed away at the age of 65. A cause of death was not announced. The news was shared on the Mike Lull Custom Guitars Facebook page.

“It is with tremendous sadness that we share that our great leader and company’s founder, Mike Lull, unexpectedly passed away on the 12th of February, 2020,” they wrote. “Mike was a visionary and inspiration for the Music community, and he left his indelible mark on every instrument he ever touched and every customer he ever helped. In fact, Mike never considered anyone ‘customers’, they were all his friends. Mike’s dedicated staff and family will be carrying on his legacy as this is what Mike wanted. If you would like to send your condolences, feel free to reach out at [email protected] or stop by the shop at any time.”

Lull was born in Eugene, Oregon in 1954 and got his first job repairing guitars when he was just sixteen years old. In fact, he built his first bass even before that.

“I built my first bass guitar in ninth grade shop class because my parents wouldn’t let me buy one,” Lull told us in a 2011 interview. “I was always taking shop classes and was really good with my hands, but I said ‘You know, I really want to play bass guitar,’ and they said, ‘No, no, it’s not a real instrument.’ This is the middle-60’s, by the way. They said, ‘It’s not a real instrument. You can play the upright bass or you can play the guitar.’ So I chose the guitar, but in the back of my mind I’m going, ‘I’m gonna get this bass guitar, you watch.'”

In 1976, he opened Mike Lull’s Guitar Works in Bellevue, Washington. His business quickly flourished and became even more prominent in the 90s as bands from the Pacific Northwest’s grunge scene came through his shop. The artists would name drop him in interviews, leading to more business. A glowing review in Bass Player magazine gave Lull the confidence to further his craft. “They did an article on me and my shop here as a luthier, and from there asked me to send a 4-string for review,” he said. “Then they did a review on one of my 5-strings and it just snowballed. It got bigger and bigger, so I decided, ‘I should really take this building thing seriously. I think I can really make this into something.'”

Lull’s basses are known for taking a familiar design and modernizing some aspects and improving playability. They are played by a wide range of artists including Pearl Jam’s Jeff Ament, Tom Petersson, Eric “Pik Funk” Smith, Randy Jackson, Hugh McDonald, and more.

Our thoughts are with the family and friends of Mike Lull.

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  1. Eric aka “Petey”

    Wow! So sorry to hear about Mike. I heard one of his basses last year @ Gerald Veasley’s bass boot camp last year. Instructor Ryan Madora had a green PJ 5 string and it sounded very full. Tone was rounded but very tight. Nice sounding bass. My condolences goes out to his family, friends, and endorsers. May he R.I.P.????

  2. Daniel

    RIP Mike. I have 3 of his great instruments. They are all perfectly built and sound great. He was a great innovator and a pleasure to deal with. He leaves behind a great legacy.

  3. John Stillwell

    I also have three Mike Custom made guitars and have been a customer since 1980. Very sad day for me.

  4. Gil Rene

    Mike worked on many of my guitars and I considered him a friend as much as a luthier. I’m crushed.

  5. Cory Squaglia

    Shocking news……one of the nicest and most interesting people i’ve ever met. And a true master at his craft. I brought in my 64 precision in for a new fret job and my 63 jazz fretless for a major overhaul and when i came to pick them up they where both soo perfect!! ….Then he thanked me for the privilege of working on my vintage basses and how much he enjoyed bringing them back to life.Then the room filled with joy as I tried out the basses and he watched and listened and we both smiled and laughed knowing perfection had been achieved. My condolences to his wife and family and the great people who work in the shop.
    Cory S

  6. I have had the pleasure of knowing Mike for over 25 years. He was such a master at his craft and a fountain of knowledge when it came to the gear we all play and love. He will be sincerely missed but his legacy will live on. My condolences to Mikes wife and family, as Paul and the guys in the shop. This is a very sad day for me. Mike was such a kind and fun person and I will never forget him. Rest In Peace Mike.

  7. Mike was not only a great luthier, but a wonderful and generous man. His visionary concepts on classic designs
    made him among the greats in the bass community. He will certainly be missed, may his legacy live on.
    Sleep in peace my friend. Joe Zon

  8. Bill Weber

    Mike was a treasure to the musicians in the Pacific NW. He and his shop were a trusted and talented group of artists and craftsmen. He worked on every bass I owned for the last 25 years. Please, associates at the shop, do everything you can to keep his vision moving forward to honor his legacy. RIP Mike. Thanks

  9. Jalal

    Wow, I am truly saddened at this loss, both for me and for the greater music community. Mike was expertly talented and as friendly as they come. My heart goes out to his family and coworkers.

  10. R.K. Higbie

    Wow! Deeply sad news for his family and for our community! Mike was a wonderful man! He was kind, gentle, and trustworthy. Through many years, Mike has done the highest quality work on my guitars and bass. I will miss him deeply…and have no idea who I’ll work with to finish the guitar project we started several years ago. You’re in my prayers, Mike. May you have a safe journey into new realms of light and love!

    R.K. Higbie

  11. Robert Furdo

    My son and I had the pleasure of meeting and chatting with Mike. He was gracious and entertaining. We spoke for way over an hour. He regaled us with stories of his experiences on the road and celebrities he knew. Great tome. He will be missed.

  12. Ryan Waggoner

    Glad I got to see Mike a couple months ago. Such a complete sweetheart. Let’s not forget that his guitars were also of unprecedented quality, even though I agree that bass is where his heart truly was.

    It’s not going to be the same around here

  13. Very sorry to hear the news. People like Mike help and support bassists in a phenomenal way. Mike Lull made wonderful instruments. Thankful to him for his tireless dedication.

  14. Ty Brown

    I had the fortune to have Mike work on my basses when I was playing in Seattle in the late 80’s through 2000 and since moving to Vegas I have yet to find anyone who comes even close to understanding the subtleties of bass like Mike. We have lost a true master. My bass silently weeps. My thoughts and prayers are with you
    Ty Brown – Bassist

  15. Harvey B.

    To Mike’s family & all the folks at Guitar Works, I am so sorry for your loss. It’s a huge loss to the musical community and around the world. Mike was a really great friend whom I’ve known for many years. He has done us a great service and treated us very fairly. He will always be in my memory. I am going to miss him a whole lot. Will continue loving his spirit from this day on. Many blessings to his family. Mike, R.I.P. You will be greatly missed. Love you forever.

  16. Ohhh, Heartbreaking. Mike just helped me give birth to Red Elk, a custom guitar. Mike did the assembly and setup and really brought her to life. It brings tears to my eyes as I write as this was in January so I just had talked to him a month ago. I have been taking my guitars to Mike since the eighties when I moved to the Seattle area. He has brought up or repaired at least 20 of them. Thing is I am not a professional so I didn’t see Mike so often that he would know me, but every time I came in, he was always enthusiastic about my projects and treated me like I was his buddy. I really like Mike and I am so sad at the news of his passing. The last time I saw him I joked about how old we were both getting. That gives me pause for thought now! I was lucky to know you Mike, RIP

  17. Keith

    Mike Lull. What a great luthier. The best!!!

  18. Tim

    I appreciate everything Mike did to make a good bass a great bass. He personally took on the project himself and I don’t know what all he did, but it was impressive. Mike is the best.